Do You Need a Passport to Take a Cruise?

January 15, 2019 |

Do You Need a Passport to Take a Cruise?

Maybe you frequently embark on domestic business travel but have never been abroad and thus had no reason to get a passport in the past. But now you’re ready to plan a cruise for a relaxing sun-soaked getaway and the question arises: “Do I need a passport to take a cruise?” The short answer is, “It depends,” but the answer that requires a lengthier explanation is “Definitely.” Here’s why:

Closed-loop cruises

There are some quirky laws dating back to the late 1800s that still determine the routes cruise ships are able to take today and whether they can arrive at a different port in the United States than where they started. According to the law, U.S. citizens who take closed-loop cruises – that return to the same U.S. port from which they started – do not need legally need a passport. Instead, they can embark on the cruise with their original birth certificate and a photo ID.

However, though it’s not required by the government or cruise lines, it’s highly recommended that you have a passport before hopping on a cruise. Some cruise lines even require it as their own policy. Here are the reasons why:

Caribbean port requirements

Though the U.S. government doesn’t require a passport for closed-loop cruise travel, it’s possible that a Caribbean island that you are docking in, for example, will require you have a passport to enter their country. Passengers are responsible for finding out this information on their own by checking with the travel agent, cruise ship or destination country.

In case of injury

Another instance where it’s vital to have a passport is if you are injured in a country and cannot return to the ship. In that case, you will not be allowed to fly out of the country you are in without a passport! Though this is unlikely to happen, it’s often wise to plan for the worst.

In case you fail to disembark

In some instances, if you are late and miss boarding the ship, you will be allowed to fly to the cruise ship’s first foreign port of call and meet your cruise there. However, you will be required to have a passport to fly. The same is true if you miss boarding the ship in a docking point – you’ll need that passport to catch a plane out of the country.

Thus, it’s highly recommended – vital, even – to have a passport for any type of cruise you take, just to be on the safe side so your vacation getaways are not ruined by poor planning!

Applying for a passport

If you’ve never had a passport before, you must apply in person. You can apply for your passport at most post offices in the U.S., and it generally takes between four to six weeks to receive your official passport, so make sure to get it early! If you’ve had a passport in the past and it has expired you may be able to renew by mail. Here’s more information about applying for your U.S. passport, including how much it costs and photo requirements.

Top 10 Cities in the World for Travel

January 9, 2019 |

Top 10 Cities in the World for Travel

When planning vacation getaways, it can be stressful deciding where to go. Travelers have to decide between going far from home or staying close and even whether they will opt for a domestic destination or head to an international hot spot.

Travel + Leisure recently compiled a list of some of the world’s best destinations among travelers. Only two U.S. cities made the list, and the others are all international locations.

 

  1. Travel + Leisure readers voted Kyoto, Japan, to be the world’s best destination. The city is an ancient imperial capital that’s home to the month-long Gion Festival that’s more than 1,000 years old. There is also the World Heritage Tours Bus that will take visitors around to see the numerous historical and cultural sites.
  2. Perhaps a surprising U.S. city to make the list is Charleston, South Carolina. This Southern city is a former colonial seaport that is home to antebellum mansions, a fresh seafood scene and a vast cultural background.
  3. Florence, Italy, offers a long list of cultural sites for travelers including Uffizi. If you want to venture through the city’s museums, admission is free on Sunday to those that are state-run.
  4. Siem Reap in Cambodia is a world-class adventure travel destination. You can go horseback riding through the city, visit the Cambodia Landmine Museum or head to nearby Kompong Pluk’s flooded rainforest.
  5. Rome has long been a top destination for travelers who want to see the world thanks to its ancient sights. The Colosseum is perhaps the most popular of all the city’s landmarks, but Rome is full of cultural activities, free concerns and children’s programs.
  6. Istanbul is home to one of the most breathtaking sites in the world, the Blue Mosque. The city is located at the junction of Asia and Europe and has a vast history. It’s home to museums of Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace as well as the Istanbul Hippodrome, the Grand Bazaar and the sunken palace of Basilica Cistern.
  7. Seville is the fourth largest city in Spain and is known for its Mudejar heritage that dates back to the medieval period. There’s also a Sephardic Jewish legacy in the city that you can learn more about on one of many walking tours.
  8. Barcelona has a lot to offer visitors including a beautiful setting on the Mediterranean Sea. There’s a wonderful public transportation system to help you get around to see the distinctive architecture and taste the Spanish cuisine.
  9. Mexico City is full of museums and is home to beautiful architecture and cultural treasures. You can visit sites such as the Revolution Monument and National Museum in the Plaza de la Republica or just mingle with the locals on the city streets.
  10. New Orleans is just one of the two U.S. cities to make the list. There are summertime festivals including San Fermin in New Orleans, Satchmo Summer Fest and the COOLinary New Orleans Festival that allows guests to dive into the Crescent City’s culture.

 

Best U.S. Destinations
For those who prefer to stay in the U.S., check out some of these top destinations:

  • Visitors will feel like they’re in an entirely different world when they visit Maui. This island in Hawaii offers breathtaking scenery, some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and fresh seafood that’s to die for.
  • Boston is the cultural capital of New England and boasts many historic sights including landmarks from the Revolutionary War. The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile history lesson and a must-see for those who want to take a step back in time to see the early beginnings of the country.
  • Yellowstone National Park is a must-see when heading out on a vacation. There are geysers, multicolored pools, bubbling hot springs and hiking trails that go on for miles.
  • Washington, D.C., is the perfect place to really dive into American history. As the nation’s capital, it’s home to monuments that are free to visit as well as an exciting nightlife.

5 (Underappreciated) U.S. Cities to Visit

December 30, 2018 |

5 Underappreciated US Cities to Visit

When people plan family vacations, they often think of the typical major U.S. city or tropical destination. This year, instead of going to the same spots, consider adding one of these “alternate” cities suggested by the Sydney Morning Herald:

  • San Diego: This SoCal city isn’t far from the U.S.-Mexico border and offers visitors a mission-style feel. If you’re looking for a family-friendly attraction, check out the world-renowned San Diego Zoo. It’s located in the cultural-filled Balboa Park, so it’s also other near other intriguing attractions such as the Natural History Museum, the Museum of Man and the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. For those who want to go surfing, one of the best spots in the city is at Blacks Beach.
  • Pittsburgh: This up-and-coming city in the Rust Belt is a foodie Mecca. You’ll want to heat to Burgh Bits And Bites for tasting tours that will take you visit some of the city’s most beloved bakers, delis and butchers. The artistic side of Pittsburgh is more than inspiring. You can visit the Warhol Museum to learn more about Andy Warhol and the masterpieces he created. The most beautiful sight to see in the city is perhaps the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh for its gothic architecture.
  • Philadelphia: Head to one of the most historic cities in the country and the site of the signing of the Declaration of Independence at Independence Hall. You’ll also want to see the Eastern State Penitentiary, a prison that closed in 1971 but is open for tours and has a long list of ghost stories to make your visit an experience unlike any other.
  • Santa Barbara: For a Los Angeles alternative, check out Santa Barbara. This beach city is home to wineries and the quintessential California beach style. The Santa Barbara Adventure Company offers tours that will take you on dolphin and sea lion encounters, or you can get the best look of the city from the water in a kayak rental.
  • Key West: This southern-most city is a great place if you’re looking to relax. The water is crystal clear and the beaches are full of white sand. For a delicious dinner and tasty margarita, head to Duval Street. The biggest attraction on the island of Key West is The Vandenberg, a World War II vessel that wrecked just off the coast. There are daily trips that head out there and allow you to get an up close look of what remains.

Top cities to visit in the US
If you prefer going on a tropical vacation or heading to a tourist touting city, try these:

  • Maui is everything you look for in a beach vacation. There are blue waters and white sand for miles and the mountains make it feel like you’re getting multiple vacations in done destination.
  • Washington, D.C., is the place to go for everything related to American culture. At the nation’s capital you’ll find free memorials and sightseeing opportunities as well as several dining options.
  • New York is often what many people think of when they imagine a vacation to a major city. The Big Apple has theaters, museums and some of the tallest buildings in the country. Be sure to take a trip to the top of the Empire State Building and visit Ground Zero, the site where the Twin Towers stood until the September 11 terrorist attacks.
  • Orlando is home to Disney World and a place that children will always remember. The park features all their favorite Disney characters as well as rides that everyone in the family can enjoy.
  • Chicago’s architecture is what draws in many tourists but there’s also a lot to do from museums to restaurants.

6 Helpful Holiday Travel Tips

December 18, 2018 |

Helpful Holiday Travel Tips: 6 Tips to Travel with Ease

The airport is rarely seen as a place of excitement, but trying to maneuver through crammed terminals and backed up security lines during the holiday season can be downright demoralizing. While the aroma of oven roasted turkey or the tranquility of the family gathering around the fireplace may serve as your primary source of motivation for trekking through the airport during the end of the year rush, not taking advantage of a few key holiday travel tips may be more disheartening than opening a stocking full of coal. Here are some suggestions that could make your holiday traveling experience smoother than a festive mug of eggnog:

Don’t wait until the last minute

If you’re really pressed for money and finding that planes are all packed, your best option may be to fly out on the actual holiday date when rates can be lower, however, this isn’t always the case. The best advice is, If you know that you’re going to be traveling for the holidays, you’ll encounter fewer issues by booking at least 2-3 weeks in advance. Should your flight be canceled or delayed, an early morning flight will allow you to possibly catch another one later in the day.

Everyone has a lot on their plate during this time of year, but as the old adage goes, “the early bird gets the worm,” especially when it comes to booking a flight. You’ll be very hard pressed to find any good deals during peak travel dates, especially if they’re on the night before one of the big holidays.

Create a checklist

Nothing is more dismaying than getting all the way to the airport and realizing you left that vital something on the kitchen counter. Avoid this dilemma by organizing a travel checklist for yourself before you head out.No matter how tedious it seems, it’s never a bad idea to write a list of all the things you think you’ll need during your trip, then lay them out for packing the night before. Most airlines now allow you to present your boarding pass via your smartphone, which can be a great convenience. Just make sure your battery is charged so that you don’t have issues when you get to the airport. With so many other things to worry about during the holidays, it might be a good idea to just print those important documents instead of taking the risk.

Bigger airports aren’t always better

Many travelers tend to use the big metropolitan airports because of their convenience and size but larger airports are often more congested during the holiday season. Consider trying smaller or alternate airports during holiday travel if they are convenient. If you do have to fly through the larger airports, use all the competition that’s there to your advantage by reviewing all the airlines available to find the best deal.

Pack carefully

One of the easiest ways you can slow yourself down at the airport is by what you’re trying to bring onboard the plane with you. If you’re trying to stuff all your belongings into a carry-on bag, you should be aware of the Transportation Security Administration’s regulations regarding certain gels and liquids. According to the official TSA rules, you are allowed to bring one small bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams, and passes through the checkpoint. Each container must contain 3.4 ounces or less, and if you need to pack something with more liquid in it, it must be stored away in checked-in luggage. This is one of the most common run-ins with security that tends to unfold. Please keep in mind when shopping for airfares as well that some airlines have begun charging additional fees for carry-on luggage, in addition, to checked luggage. The lowest fare may not always be the best one if it means you have to pay extra to bring your belongings. Airline websites will have this information and a travel agent will also help to make sense of airline fees.

Shipping Santa

Nothing can dampen a child’s holiday spirit quite like not receiving a gift on time. If you know that you’re going to be cutting it close on your flight arrival during the holidays, you can always play it safe by shipping out all your gifts ahead of time. For starters, there’s the off chance that airport security may have to unwrap your present when going through security to thoroughly inspect it. But the biggest advantage you get by shipping ahead of time is that while your flight might be tardy, your Santa’s delivery will still be punctual.

Patience is a virtue 

Traveling during the holiday can be an extremely anxious experience, especially when you’re really excited to get to your destination. But the fact of the matter is that weather delays, flight cancellations and general chaos are practically inevitable during this time. Remember that there’s nothing you can do to avoid these unfortunate scenarios, and be sure to find leisurely ways to pass the time so airport misfortunes don’t crush your holiday spirit. If you do encounter delays or cancellations, having an expert travel agent to turn to rather than waiting in line or on hold with the airlines can be a great advantage.

Answers to the 5 Most Common Flight Questions

December 6, 2018 |

Many businesses use a travel management company to ensure that they get the best travel rates and avoid the headaches that often come with booking travel. What about when you’re flying for vacation travel? Here are some of the top air travel questions that we hear from travelers when they’re getting ready for a trip:

I booked my flight several months ago but now need to cancel. Will I be reimbursed?

It depends. If you bought a refundable fare, which is typically more expensive, you’re in the clear. If you have a non-refundable ticket and have to cancel you will be issued a ticket credit that you can use, in most cases, for up to one year from the day you booked the flight. You’ll also likely be charged a change fee that can vary by airline. Look for information on change fees on the airline’s website or you can contact your travel advisor for questions if you’ve booked with Travel and Transport.

How much time do I need between connecting flights for international travel?

Making your connecting flight is a common traveler worry, especially when planing vacation travel outside of the U.S. Delays can be nearly impossible to predict as they can result from so many factors. A two-hour layover may not always be enough cushion in the event of a delay. On the other hand, anything more than five hours could be intolerable. If you’re connecting in an international destination or returning to the U.S. to catch a connecting flight home, be sure to build in extra time to make it through customs, immigration and security. Trusted traveler programs like Global Entry and TSA Pre Check can help to save you time at these checkpoints. Booking your entire journey as part of the same reservation with the same airline or airline group is strongly recommended as most airlines try to build in the minimum adequate layover time and will work to accommodate you if your flights have been delayed. If you’ve booked the legs of your journey separately you may not be able to rebook your connecting flights without additional cost.

What if my flight is stuck on the tarmac and I need to get off?

Though you hear horror stories about flights being stuck on the tarmac for several hours, they actually aren’t very frequent. When tarmac delays happen, they are usually due to poor weather conditions. Thankfully, the Department of Transportation now requires airlines to let passengers off the plane if the tarmac delay lasts more than three hours and flight attendants will usually offer you water and do their best to ensure you’re comfortable during the wait.

What is the best day to book airfare?

There are many theories on this topic so a definitive answer might be hard to come by. Since many airlines release that week’s sales on Mondays, a prevailing theory is that Tuesday afternoon may be the best time to get a deal when airlines are trying to match each other’s fares or lower prices to compete.The answer is that it really depends on the season, the destination and whether or not there are holiday sales. An experienced vacation travel advisor can work with you to ensure you’re getting the best possible fares on the flights that work best for you.

Can you still get a window or aisle seat in economy class?

Yes, most airline still allow you to select your preferred seat at the time of booking, however, this varies by airline and demand. Buying your tickets early and joining the airline’s frequent flyer program are the best ways to ensure you get the seats you want. We also recommend checking in for your flight 24 hours in advance online. You’ll usually have the opportunity to confirm your seat assignment at that time. Many airlines now offer premium economy seats at an additional cost that are located in the front half of the plane and offer additional space and legroom. They also offer additional perks like preferred space in the overhead bins for your carry-on. When upgrading to these seats you’ll have the opportunity to select the seat location you want based on what’s available.

Making Outstanding Memories – the Value of a Travel Professional

January 1, 2018 |

 

Why do we go places? Why is travel so important? How do you make sure that you get a magical vacation that creates experiences and memories that will last a lifetime? As this video from ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents) shows, going to a travel professional when planning your next travel experience is invaluable.

Why Cruises Make Good Vacation Getaways

October 12, 2017 |

why cruises make good vacation getaways

If you need to get away somewhere and have a peaceful trip — meaning adventure travel is out of the question — one excellent option is to take a cruise. People of all ages enjoy cruises, and aside from being exceptionally fun, they are a great deal and can even provide a dose of international travel for those who want to explore other cultures!

Here are the reasons that cruises make excellent leisure travel options:

Variety of locales

You can take a cruise to just about anywhere, whether you go island hopping in the Caribbean, take a river cruise down the Seine through France or explore South American ports via cruise ship. One of the best things about cruising is the great variety of options, as well as the varied locations you can travel – while only having to pack and unpack once — just by stepping off ship into port.

Varying sizes and activities

People traveling on family vacations often like taking mega-ships, which are often outfitted with multiple pools, water slides, movie theaters, rock-climbing walls and everything in-between. The days spent at sea between port stops are packed with things for children to do, while parents can relax with a good book or spend the day in the spa onboard.

Older couples might enjoy a smaller cruise ship that focuses on luxury, or river cruises that are often for adults-only. These can provide serenity, romance and unique cultural experiences that people crave.

Great value

Everyone knows that cruises offer excellent value. This is because the fares are often all-inclusive, or nearly all-inclusive. That means the cost covers activities and entertainment, lodging, meals and transportation. Typically, everything but alcoholic beverages is included. Cruises can accommodate any price point. For example, you can often find fares for under $100 per person, per night, but there are more upscale options for luxury travel that are more expensive but have a bundled price with flights, gratuities, shore tours, WiFi and beverages included.

Relaxation factor

One major plus about cruises is that you can relax from start to finish — there need not be any planning involved, except choosing your destination and purchasing your cruise package. Cruises are built around relaxation and are an excellent break for people who engage in frequent business travel and want time to decompress. Many ships have spas, ocean-view rooms and many other amenities conducive to a calm environment.

Top Tips for Solo Leisure Travel

August 28, 2017 |

Solo travel is a trend increasing in popularity. According to the U.S. Travel Association, solo travelers make up 23% of leisure travel. My solo travel career started with a whim after my fun-in-the-sun spring break plans fell apart, leaving me on a deserted college campus. I couldn’t bear the strange dining hall hours, so I called my cousin—an accountant in the middle of an incredibly busy tax season—begged for use of her couch for a week and booked a flight to San Francisco. Since that auspicious beginning, I’ve traveled throughout the United States and to twelve other countries, frequently alone. Here are a few tips from my experiences to help you start your own solo travel lifestyle.Hanauma Bay

Book ahead.

As a solo traveler, you don’t have to meticulously plan your days or set specific meeting times with your group. There’s no push and pull to figure out how you’re going to visit everyone’s preferred attractions, especially when the Honolulu Museum of Modern Art is on the opposite side of the island from the cove your travel partner is dying to snorkel at. Even though the solo traveler can change his or her plans readily, don’t forget that some activities require advanced purchase or there won’t even be room for little old you. Must-do activities, such as a visit to Alcatraz Island in San Francisco, can often sell out weeks, if not months, in advance. Failing to plan ahead, you may be able to find last minute tickets to certain events on websites like Craigslist. As a solo traveler, you may even be more likely to score incredible last-minute deals on single tickets to sporting and theater events.Alcatraz

Rethink those cheap flights.

Consider the time of year during which you’re traveling. The impulse flight you booked to Stockholm was really inexpensive… because everything in the city closes at 4 p.m. in November. Skansen, the world’s oldest open-air museum, was practically deserted, with far fewer displays than in the summer, and I spent more time in my hotel reading Girl with the Dragon Tattoo than wandering the dark streets of Gamla Stan—Stockholm’s old town. If you’re a more social type, you might consider staying at a hotel in a bar district where you can meet locals or people watch. But stay aware of your surroundings. As the solo foreigner, some unscrupulous people might find you an easy target for theft or worse.

Have back-up plans.

It’s one thing to take a taxi to a small UNESCO World Heritage site outside of Sofia, Bulgaria. It’s another thing to figure out how you’re going to get a taxi back to your hostel without a cell phone, number for a taxi company or any skill in the Bulgarian language. Eiffel TowerLuckily, when you’re done admiring tenth century frescos, you can hike down the mountain until you happen upon a taxi stand. Always try to have a plan for where you will go if your destination is closed and how you will get back to wherever you’re staying.

Learn a little language.

There are plenty of podcasts and websites to teach basic, essential phrases to the global traveler. While most international tourist destinations have plenty of English-speakers, a little language can go a long way. When a souvenir vendor near the Eiffel Tower tried to convince me that he didn’t speak English, I pieced my question together in broken French. Maybe not everyone needs to learn, “Do you sell snowglobes,” but “hello” and “thank you” make a huge difference, especially if you step off the beaten path.

Eat like a foodie.

I’m the food-apathetic traveler who wants to eat at the Oldest Restaurant in Europe (Piwnica Swidnicka, Wroclaw, Poland), regardless of the Yelp reviews. However, on a trip to Barcelona, I took recommendations from a friend and dined on the best food of my life. Sagrada Familia and the Gaudi architecture were amazing, but if I go back to Barcelona, it will be for the tapas. It can be awkward to eat alone—like when I entered a nearly-empty restaurant in Stockholm and they almost didn’t seat me because, despite their perfect command of English, the staff could not comprehend that I really didn’t have anyone to eat with. If you really can’t bear to eat alone, browse traveler forums for dinner dates. In Budapest, I met up with a friend of a friend in the evenings for delicious meals and to explore the famous “ruin pubs.”Piwnica Swidnicka

Embrace your experiences.

Some activities are harder to do alone than others. Bathing in the Szechenyi Baths of Budapest is an iconic experience for the visitor to Hungary. When you have those opportunities, don’t back out when you encounter a nearly incomprehensible check-in process or because you don’t think you’re rocking your speedo as well as the elderly locals. Get in, find a good vantage point, people watch and focus on the being in the moment. And—whatever you do—don’t be that guy who cannonballs in, splashing everyone, then yell, “Sorry! I’m an American!”  You know who you are.

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Stay safe.

Let someone know your general itinerary. Do your research about the location ahead of time. If you’re traveling abroad, consider purchasing a phone plan that works internationally. Look up the local equivalent to 9-1-1, and register your visit with your embassy in that country. When I was traveling abroad frequently, I used my Kindle’s free 3G connection and experimental browser to access my Google Voice number so I could text occasional updates to family back home. Finally, consider booking through a travel agency so you have someone on your side in the case of an emergency.

Ready to make the solo-travel leap? Call one of our experienced travel advisors to find a trip suited for you. Already an adept solo traveler? Share some of your tips and stories in the comments below or on Twitter.

Photo credits:

Insights for Travel Managers

October 15, 2016 |

Get more at Insights.TravelandTransport.com

How will Brexit impact travel?

June 24, 2016 |

big-ben-london-instagram-2015-travel-and-transport

By now, you’ve heard the news that, in a close and historic vote, citizens of the United Kingdom have chosen to leave the European Union. The Brexit, as the referendum has been nicknamed, will not happen immediately. It will take at least a couple of years until the UK has completely left the EU. Still, the process will begin and the world has taken notice – particularly the financial markets.

What will this mean for travelers? How will it affect business travel? What will change? What will remain the same? There are many uncertainties and a lot of questions that still need to be answered. We’ve collected information from some of the most trusted sources to give you some insight about what this could mean for you if you’re planning international travel soon.

How will US travelers be affected by Brexit?

In the short term, your dollar will stretch a lot farther. Will hotels and airlines adjust to this change? It’s a little too soon to tell, however Money offers some ideas about how Brexit might change travel to the UK and to mainland Europe.  CNN also has a great guide to Brexit and the implications it has for just about everyone in the world.

How will UK travelers be affected by Brexit?

“There will be no initial change in the way our people can travel, in the way our goods can move or the way our services can be sold,” stated British Prime Minister David Cameron after the referendum. While it’s true that little should change in the short term, there is one expensive exception: the British Pound Sterling, the UK’s currency, has fallen considerably. The BBC tells us how this will affect UK Citizens.

British low cost carriers such as EasyJet and Ryanair (which is Irish but operates heavily within the UK) have stated that the days of cheap fares between the UK and the rest of Europe could be numbered.

In addition, Scotland and Northern Ireland voters overwhelmingly voted to remain in the EU – and there are uncertainties on whether these countries will work towards independence from the United Kingdom in order to remain members of the EU.

It’s far too early to know all of the changes that may happen. The BBC has a page of frequently asked questions that UK citizens are having, such as “Will I need a new passport?”, “Will I need a visa to travel to EU countries?” and perhaps most importantly, “How much French and Italian wine can I bring back into the country?”. The answers to most of these questions seem to be that nothing will change immediately and more details will emerge as discussions and negotiations occur between the British government, the EU and its member countries.

What do you think? How will the Brexit affect you? Will you plan a vacation to London or Edinburgh in the near future to take advantage of the exchange rate? How will it affect global commerce? What impact do you think it will have on business travel? Let us know on Twitter @TandTNews.